Do you travel with anxiety in packed your luggage? If so, you are definitely not alone! For many, fear is a constant companion – even when travelling. In Denmark alone, it is estimated that about 350.000 Danish suffer from anxiety right now, and that may even be a fairly low estimate. Therefore, if you have anxiety in your life like I do, travelling can be a bit of an extra challenge.
But don’t worry… there is plenty you can do to get more out of your travels – and experience adventures! Here are 9 tips to help you along… from someone (me), who has brought plenty of fear along in my luggage, and who has had some experience in that particular area!
Anxiety is a horrible state to be swallowed up in, and I have been affected by it badly during times of my life. But I have never allowed the fear to take away my wanderlust and my curiosity to see the world. And believe me. I speak from experience. I have travelled a whole lot – even at times in my life, where the fear would sneak its way inside of me, and scare me out of my wits.
This is based on the fact that I know the rules of the game of fear, and I understand the cards it’s been dealt, and how I need to play my cards to defeat it. I would like to teach you the rules of that game, so you too can enjoy your travels and experience the world wherever you happen to want to travel.
Here are some of the rules – rules about reducing your anxiety along the way by lowering your stress level.
Stress and Anxiety on the Journey
Travel (regardless how exciting it may be) involves a certain measure of stress. And the more stress you are exposed to – the more easily your anxiety is awakened.
Stress occurs in situations like those where you:
- have to pack everything you need along the way
- have to be in time for the plane, train, bus, etc.
- have a multipage travel plan that has to work right down to the minute
- are bringing a child or children, whose needs and wishes must be met although this is not always possible
- eat junk food along the way, on the plane, on the train, on the bus, rest stops on the freeway… etc.
- travel far and never know the agenda for the following day (or the following hour)
- are subjected to no food, drink, or sleep on your journey
- don’t understand the language and find it difficult to communicate your needs and wishes
- are shouted at and harassed by vendors and people who want “something” from you
- are subjected to anxiety triggers you don’t yet know or understand (because that’s how it is with anxiety)
- get sick
- get into trouble and can’t get help
- etc. etc.
These are situations everyone knows if they travel a lot. Sometimes travelling is truly a crap sandwich, because it can be so stressful.
And if you have the anxiety to boot, it just makes it twice as hard.
But at the same time, it is precisely the balance between stress and total relaxation/enjoyment that can make travel so exciting and challenging.
How to Handle Travel So Stress Doesn’t Ignite Anxiety
The four words you’ll want to know when you travel and have anxiety are:
Less stress – less anxiety.
It’s that simple.
It’s about mastering the travel experience and the situations you subject yourself to and are subjected to along the way in a manner where the stress needle doesn’t oscillate any more than you can handle.
It’s a little like climbing a mountain that challenges your altitude sickness. As soon as you feel your altitude sickness, the only thing that helps is to go down the mountain a bit and stay there till it stabilises. Then you can climb a little more.
The same goes for stress and anxiety. Stress is when you are walking up the mountain. Anxiety is the altitude sickness. That’s when it helps to reduce what’s stressing you. That decreases your anxiety. Once your anxiety decreases, you can continue on for a while.
9 Tips That Help You Handle Stress to Decrease Anxiety
There are tonnes of methods and techniques that you can use along the way to handle both your thoughts, feelings, body, and behaviour along with your journey, but you can get a long way – just by reducing your stress.
Here are 9 tips you can use for inspiration for a trip where you may bring your anxiety in your luggage, but where you don’t need to let your anxiety control you along the way.
Make sure you minimise stress on your trip. The less stress you have – the less risk that you will have anxiety. So, make sure you:
- spread out your travel tasks so they are dispersed and not all at once. Start packing in plenty of time, so you won’t stand there with everything at the last minute before leaving or checking out from someplace
- eat and drink regularly, so your body won’t starve or get dehydrated. This is especially important on long journeys, trips or travels
- eat healthy and nutritious food, so you keep your blood sugar stable
- prioritize sleeping – that way it is easier to keep the anxiety at bay during the day
- communicate your needs and wants to the people you are traveling with – clearly and concisely, so you don’t repress feelings and needs and so others know where they’ve got you
- be true to yourself and to the things that are important to you
- make choices that make sense for you
- focus on the now. Immerse yourself in the country, nature, people around you. Notice what is – right now. And right here
- take breaks. And take them until you have recharged
The world is filled with adventure, don’t let fear hold you back! Go explore!
Have a great trip!
If you speak danish – you can read more about how to let go of your anxiety here: Slipangsten.dk.
What is anxiety? Read the danish blogpost: “Hvad er angst?“